WITH the upcoming long Undas (All Saints/All Souls Days) break and a newly published list of holidays for 2024, Filipinos are likely headed for vacations to Cebu, Tagaytay, and El Nido, or staycationing in Metro Manila hotels with their families.
This developed as the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) revealed these were among the top destinations and hotel locations chosen by buyers during its recent September Online Sales (SOS). According to HSMA Vice President and SOS Project Head Amie Villena, 3,662 vouchers were sold during the month-long event, and generated over P19.3 million in revenue. Seventy-three hotels and resorts participated in the project, with Cebu, Tagaytay and Metro Manila among the top destinations, based on number of vouchers sold.
She said hotels that reached more than P1 million in revenue during the sales event were Twin Lakes Hotel in Tagaytay, Miniloc Island Resort in El Nido, Bai Hotel Cebu, and Okada Manila. Belmont Hotel in Boracay also landed among the top five hotels, selling more than 100 vouchers. The vouchers are valid for one year and if rooms are available, guests can also book during holidays like All Saints/All Souls Days on November 1 and 2. With October 30 recently declared a special non-working holiday due to the Barangay/Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, Filipinos are looking at a potential long break from October 28 to November 5.
This year’s sales were 48 percent lower though than the P37 million generated from 5,854 vouchers sold in 2022, due to the competing travel fairs held by other organizations.
“Yes, we did not meet our target to replicate last year’s performance, but we are more than pleased with the result,” said Villena. “SOS also coincided with the Philippine Travel Mart and our members did their own online sale. In spite of these events, we were still able to generate significant revenue for the participating hotels/resorts,” she added.
Last week, HSMA held its first-ever summit, “Elevate the Game: Taking the Lead to Global Competitiveness,” featuring speakers from the government, the tourism industry, and analysts.
In her keynote address, Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Chief Operating Officer Maria Margarita M. Nograles underscored the partnership between the public and private sectors to sell the Philippines to domestic and international tourists. “Collaborations with you and our other stakeholders are paramount. Our people are the Philippines’s most valuable asset in becoming a preferred destination and none of our achievements would be possible without your support,” she said. The partnership is vital, she said, especially when putting little-known tourism destinations on the radar of travelers.
“We have so many hidden gems that have either started to be recognized or have yet to be discovered. Have any of you been to the beautiful sand bars and white sands of Romblon? [Have] you tasted the amazing blend of coconut and sea salt [in Guimaras’s] locally produced Tultul salt?”
Nograles also noted the growing connectivity across the country that will help tourists explore these little-known destinations. New international flights from various cities are landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, while direct flights have connected foreign airports to Cebu, Davao, Clark, Kalibo, Palawan, Laoag, Iloilo, and soon Bohol and Bicol, she noted.
At the same time, government is strengthening domestic connectivity.
“New local flights like the Cebu-Baguio and Bacolod-Clark routes are opening up better avenues for travel within our diverse regions,” she said.
Similarly, HSMA President Loleth So told the BusinessMirror that their summit stressed the “critical need for connectivity in terms of airlines, infrastructure like airports, and awareness campaign of our culture/heritage in key focus geographic markets to be able to achieve again the 8.2-million visitor arrivals [as in 2019], and close the gap between us and Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.”
For her part, HSMA Director for Memberships Agnes Pacis shared that the summit raised the importance of focusing on the “low-hanging fruits [i.e., domestic market] and promoting fresh and pristine destinations in our 7,641 beautiful islands.”